The Shipwrecked Man by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

In 1527, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca served as treasurer on an ill-fated expedition to the Florida Peninsula.  Early on, the expedition was shipwrecked near what is now Tampa Bay.  Cabeza de Vaca tried to convince the expedition’s leadership that they should remain on the shore until rescue arrived, but the thirst for gold and the mistaken belief that there were Spanish settlements nearby resulted … Continue reading The Shipwrecked Man by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge

C.J. and I visited Los Angeles this past week to see the James Kerry Marshall retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the same show we saw last summer in Chicago.  We’ve become big fans of Mr. Marshall’s work. It was a mad-cap three-day trip–drive down, day in L.A. and drive home–but we managed to visit three bookstores while we were there.  We stayed in … Continue reading Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge

The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher

This passage may contain everything I loved about M.F.K. Fishers memoir, The Gastronomical Me. The first time, on our way to Germany, we had sat downstairs while our meal was being made.  There were big soft leather chairs, and on the dark table was a bowl of the first potato chips I ever saw in Europe, not the uniformly thing uniformly golden ones that come out … Continue reading The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher

Red Lights by Georges Simenon

Georges Simenon was once the best selling author in the world. In the 1930’s he was a writer of pulp fiction but once he began writing detective stories featuring Inspector Maigret, he became famous under his own name. He wrote over 100 Maigret stories along with a series of Roman durs, novels depicting the psychological anxiety that lays under the surface of everyday routine. His … Continue reading Red Lights by Georges Simenon

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley

If you love books, then this is the book for you. I’ve long held that there should be an official genre for novels about books–there are so many stories about bookshops, publishers, collectors, particular books and their power. They deserve a category. Bibliophilliac Fiction maybe. Christopher Morley’s first novel, Parnassus on Wheels,  should be at the top of anyone’s canonical list of bibliophilliac fiction. It’s wonderful. … Continue reading Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley

Piracy, Turtles & Flying Foxes by William Dampier

William Dampier (1651-1715) spent the last part of the 17th century travelling around the world three times, by accident.  He was arguably the most unsuccessful pirate to ever live to tell the tale. Dampier first told his tale in A New Voyage Round the World which is considered to be the first great travel book in English.   When he was low on funds, which … Continue reading Piracy, Turtles & Flying Foxes by William Dampier